Skip to content

Most Recent Blog Posts

6 Steps to Take Your Bible Study from Dull to Incredible

John D. BarryThis guest Bible Gateway Blog post is by John D. Barry (@JohnDBarry), general editor of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible (Zondervan, 2017) (@NIVBible).


[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, NIV Faithlife Study Bible Encourages Readers to Stay Curious about God’s Word]

Imagine a collection of books that allowed for you to everyday hear the very voice of God. Consider adding to that collection stories of righteous prophets, holy wars, acts of valor, and slaves being freed. And then, throw into that collection personal prison letters, a God who came to earth, and more. Then, envision the entire collection being ancient, from another time, but still incredibly relevant. You already know I’m talking about the Bible. Now, let’s go through six steps to take your Bible study from dull to incredible.

Buy your copy of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

1. Change the subject of your study.

Bible study should be about knowing God as Creator, Jesus who came to earth, and Spirit present with believers. God is the subject of the Bible and should be the subject of our study. It’s not the Bible we worship, but the living God, who came to this very earth as a human, as Jesus, to die for all of our wrongdoings and rise again.

If our Bible study is focused on the Bible, we’re really missing the point. Boring study is introduced when we think of the Bible like any other historical work or like a textbook. Jesus himself makes this point to some Jews of his time, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39–40 NIV).

2. Picture it as a movie.

The Bible is full of epic battle scenes and intense drama (read 12 Samuel or Acts). In our overly saturated, visual culture, many of us have lost our imaginations. We rely on others to imagine for us, in the forms of movies and other mediums. I think this is tragic, because it’s in imagination that we find the will power to make the world a better place.

The patriarchs of Israel, the few great kings over God’s people, and the righteous prophets, were great visionaries of a better life. They studied God’s past actions (often through the oral tradition of the time) and then prayerfully sought the will of God for the present. Through times of prayer they were able to see what others could not—a life lived for God, full of spiritual (and often physical) plenty. This vision is carried forward with Jesus’ disciples, who have an opportunity to execute the vision of the living God on earth. And we too are meant to imagine the past, both as it was and as it could have been, so that we can envision a better future.

3. Decide which character you are.

Jesus told lots of stories—great parables that were meaningful (see Matthew 13). It’s easy to forget when reading these that the point of them is to identify with the characters: We either are meant to realize that we’re one of the characters or comprehend that we’re yet to live like the characters do. When we do so, Jesus’ words move from obscure to real. He’s telling us something we can do right now. When we hear Jesus, we’re meant to take action; we’re meant to do what he’s just asked. This takes the Bible from words on paper to words lived out.

4. Pray about the next steps.

Prayer is perhaps the most undervalued element in western Christianity (compare Philippians 4:2–6). Sure, we pray over meals and even pray for people publicly, but modern prayer is often treated like asking God to grant our wishes. In actuality, it’s a conversation—he talks and we talk, in a dialogue—and one that should be full of thanksgiving. It’s an opportunity to align ourselves with God so that we can do what he has in store for us. It’s where we learn who we are and what we’re meant to be. It’s where we take the words of the Bible to God and request that he change us, so that we may do what he’s already commanded for all people (compare Matthew 6:5–15; 6:25–7:12).

Without prayer, Bible study will continue to be like studying another book. Indeed, you may improve your life, but you will not be holistically changed. God has the ability to make you better than you could ever imagine being, which certainly will not be easy (it means changing), but will be well worth the journey.

5. Feed your curiosity.

When it comes to Bible study, we tend to set it on a timer. If it doesn’t fit in our devotional time, then we won’t pursue it. But Bible study should be a quest. Faith is an ongoing and epic journey that we live. When you have a question, follow it.

Jesus loved questions—he asked them often (e.g., Matthew 16:13; 21:24–25). When you reach a text, ask questions and keep going until you find answers. Specifically, I recommend reading a biblical book in whole and then going back to ask and answer questions.

In the process of searching for answers, I highly recommend examining multiple viewpoints. It’ll open your eyes to the depth of Scripture. By understanding the various viewpoints within the Christian tradition, you’ll better understand the God we serve. (Tip: A fair and balanced study Bible and a Bible dictionary are critical tools for answering questions.)

6. Live the Bible’s message, seriously.

We should be people who read the Bible and live its message. The Bible is meant to be a transformative text—we’re meant to enter its story and be part of it. When we directly engage issues of extreme poverty and spreading the gospel, we take on the message of the Bible (Matthew 28:16–20; James 1:27). We’re meant to be people who love the impoverished fully, with everything we have. We’re meant to be disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus. It should be our aim to glorify God by living self-sacrificial lives for Christ—dedicated to spreading the message of Jesus, in word and deed.

Bible study should always lead us to action. And our actions should lead us back to the Bible—to understand what God is doing in our lives and world. When you live the story of the Bible, the Bible is never boring. It’s life transforming.

I hope that when you hear the words “Bible study” you’ll no longer think of boring schoolwork or dry lectures. Try turning off the negative reaction to “study” today by remembering that Bible study is about knowing a God who’s left you guidance in a book. He’s also a God who wants to give you personal guidance today. You know what you have to do—go make it happen.

This article is adapted in part from a previously published article by John D. Barry titled “4 Life Changing Ideas for Bible Study.”

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, 4 Ways Examining Multiple Views Will Transform Your Bible Study]


John D. Barry is general editor of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible and the CEO of Jesus’ Economy, an innovative non-profit creating jobs and churches in the developing world. At JesusEconomy.org, people create jobs for the impoverished by shopping fair trade. They can also give directly to a cause they’re passionate about, such as creating jobs, planting churches, or meeting basic needs. 100% goes to the developing world. Anyone can join the movement at JesusEconomy.org.

The NIV Faithlife Study Bible (Zondervan, 2017) is filled with innovative graphics, rich commentary, and insights from multiple points of view—all designed to inform readers’ faith and to engage their curiosity, no matter where they are on their faith journey. To learn more, visit www.NIVFaithlifeStudyBible.com.

Father and Son Josh and Sean McDowell Team Up on New Edition of Evidence That Demands a Verdict

Josh McDowell and Sean McDowll

Modern Apologetics Classic Completely Updated and Expanded for a New Generation Facing New Challenges to the Christian Faith—On Sale Oct. 3, 2017

Bestselling author Josh McDowell (@josh_mcdowell) and his son Dr. Sean McDowell (@Sean_McDowell) are collaborating on a completely updated and expanded edition of the modern apologetics classic The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict (Thomas Nelson, 1999) that will be titled Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World (Thomas Nelson, 2017).

Buy your copy of The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post The Undeniable Reliability of Scripture: An Interview with Josh McDowell]

[Browse the Apologetics resources section in the Bible Gateway Store]

Evidence That Demands a Verdict was first published with Campus Crusade for Christ in 1972 to arm thoughtful Christ followers with knowledge to defend and proactively present the Christian faith,” says Daniel Marrs, associate publisher, Thomas Nelson Bible Group (@NelsonBibles). “Since that initial release, more than one million copies of this classic apologetics resource have been sold. The truth of the Bible doesn’t change—but its critics do. So we’re excited to present this fully updated and expanded edition that addresses the latest challenges to the Christian faith with brand new research from Josh and Sean. We here at Thomas Nelson are delighted for the opportunity to continue partnering with Josh, Sean, and Josh McDowell Ministry to steward this resource for the Kingdom in the coming years.”

Over 1 million copies of Evidence That Demands a Verdict are currently in print, making it one of the most widely used and trusted manuals on Christian apologetics. Since the last update in 1999, Josh and Sean have begun working together on some ministry fronts. In this new edition, significant new content has been developed by both authors. The new edition goes on sale October 3, 2017.

Buy your copy of More Than a Carpenter in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

“Over 40 years ago, I saw that Christian readers needed answers to defend their faith against the harshest critics and skeptics,” says Josh McDowell. “Sean and I invite readers to bring their doubts and to not shy away from the tough questions. This new, completely revised and updated edition of Evidence brings historical documentation and some of the best modern scholarship to bear on the trustworthiness of the Bible and its teachings.”

Evidence has been a trusted resource for believers young and old and has encouraged and strengthened the faith of millions,” says Sean McDowell. “I’m honored to have partnered with my dad on this new edition, and I’m eager to see how it will impact the faith and evangelism of a new generation.”

About Josh and Sean McDowell
As a young man, Josh McDowell considered himself an agnostic. He truly believed that Christianity was worthless. However, when challenged to intellectually examine the claims of Christianity, Josh discovered compelling and overwhelming evidence for the reliability of the Christian faith. After trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, Josh’s life changed dramatically as he experienced the power of God’s love. After his conversion, Josh committed his life to telling a doubting world about the truth of Jesus Christ. After studying at Kellogg College, Josh completed his college degree at Wheaton College and then attended Talbot Theological Seminary, graduating magna cum laude with a Masters of Divinity. Working with Campus Crusade for Christ and founding the youth outreach, Josh McDowell Ministry, Josh has shared the gospel with more than 25 million people in 125 countries. He’s the author or co-author of 147 books. Learn more about Josh McDowell and Josh McDowell Ministry at www.josh.org.

Dr. Sean McDowell is a gifted communicator with a passion for equipping the church, especially young people, to make the case for the Christian faith. He connects with audiences through humor and stories while imparting hard evidence and logical support of a biblical worldview. Sean is an assistant professor in Biola University’s Christian Apologetics program and the resident scholar for Summit California. A regular speaker for organizations like Focus on the Family, the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and Youth Specialties, among others, Sean is the author, co-author, or editor of more than 18 books and is a frequent guest on radio shows like FamilyLife Today® and Point of View. Learn more about Sean McDowell at www.seanmcdowell.org.

About Thomas Nelson
Thomas Nelson is a world leading publisher and provider of Christian content and has been providing readers with quality inspirational product for more than 200 years. As part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the publishing group provides multiple formats of award-winning Bibles, books, gift books, cookbooks, curriculum and digital content, with distribution of its products in more than 100 countries. Thomas Nelson, is headquartered in Nashville, TN. For additional information visit www.thomasnelson.com.

Which of The 7 Money Types Are You?: An Interview with Tommy Brown

Tommy BrownIs true financial well-being more than getting out of debt and accumulating wealth? How does the Bible offer holistic financial pathways that lead you to a place of increased awareness and confidence toward the way God wants you to handle money?

[Sign up for the Seven Money Types free 9-day email devotional and you’ll also receive the free 20-page sample of the book]

Bible Gateway interviewed Tommy Brown (@tommythebrown) about his book, The Seven Money Types: Discover How God Wired You To Handle Money (Zondervan, 2017).

[Discover your biblical money type]

Buy your copy of The Seven Money Types in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

According to a recent survey, nearly 7 in 10 Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. And another survey says the average household with credit card debt has balances totaling more than $16,000. What does this say about how the average person handles money?

Tommy Brown: People struggle financially for many different reasons, and some are simply doing the very best they can while managing enormous expenses (for example, medical bills, caring for an aging parent, tuition for a child, healthcare insurance, etc.). My hope is that whether a person has very little in the bank or enormous material wealth, they can learn to live more intentionally financially, to align their desires with their actions; and this comes in part by embracing your God-designed money type. Many people have a very low awareness of why they do what they do with their money, and an understanding of your biblical money type helps with this.

You write that God has designed each person in one of seven ways to handle money. How did you arrive at the conclusion?

Tommy Brown: While ministering to families in the area of financial stewardship over the course of 14 years, I recognized the same seven types of money motivations and patterns arising over and again. We read in Genesis 1:26-30 that God created humans in his image, and gave them stewardship over creation and its resources. Based on this belief, my question became whether the way we’re designed in God’s image impacts the way we steward resources, including money. These patterns must come from somewhere, and I believe we find our best and deepest desires flowing from God. When I discovered in the Jewish tradition that seven aspects of what it means to be made in God’s image are represented by seven biblical characters, and that each of these biblical characters related to resources in one of the seven ways I was seeing playing out in the people around me, the dots began to connect.

What are the seven biblical money types?

Tommy Brown: The seven biblical money types are seven ways that people instinctively think, feel, and act financially. These seven types are represented in Scripture: Abraham (hospitality), Isaac (discipline/maximization), Jacob (beauty), Joseph (connection), Moses (endurance/order), Aaron (humility, and David (leadership). As you read their stories, it’s fascinating to view the ways they handle resources through this lens. When you see these same seven types at play today, you realize that we’re part of an ongoing story to bring God’s love into the world through our stewardship.

What is financial well-being?

Tommy Brown: Financial well-being, in my opinion, is the ability to handle resources in a way that’s true to our deepest sense of self while maintaining healthy financial thoughts, emotions, and attitudes. There are people who have very little money who are greedy, while others who are poor are very much at ease internally. Then, there are those who are wealthy who are deeply joyful in their relationship to money, and others who are rich who are anxious and greedy.

When we unearth, understand, and unleash how God designed us to handle money, financial well-being then goes deeper, and whether you have much or little, you recognize why you think the ways you do about money, which helps you relate to it, and spend it, in a way that is congruent with your deepest sense of delight. We will be able to say with Paul, “I have learned the secret of being content” (Phil. 4:12).

You focus on seven men of the Bible whose characters reveal one of the seven aspects of what it means to be made in God’s image. Select one of the seven and explain that for us here.

Tommy Brown: Abraham is well known as the man who represented what it means to be hospitable. It’s likely Abraham whom the book of Hebrews holds up as a model for this attribute (Heb. 13:2). We see in Abraham’s life this inclination to use resources in hospitable ways. Consider the time when the three visitors came to his tent and he promised them some water and a little something to eat (Gen. 18). By the time he was done, he and his wife delivered a full-course meal. Abraham types are those who view money as a way to make others feel special and noticed. Like Abraham, they under-promise and over-deliver. Their first thought with money is always other people, how they can show them love by the way money is used.

You write that each of the seven money types has a shadow side. What do you mean?

Tommy Brown: We all have areas where we can grow financially, and while each of the seven biblical money types are inherently good, each has a shadow side that can derail even the best of intentions. For example, the shadow side of an Abraham type is self-sufficiency. If you follow Abraham’s story, you’ll notice that it was very tough to give this man anything. Abraham types will go above and beyond with money for everyone else, but if you try to do something for them, they’ll do whatever they can to deflect your generosity. This shadow side can lead to self-neglect.

How much did Jesus talk about money and how would you summarize his themes on the subject?

Tommy Brown: Some scholars would say that Jesus talked about money as a topic more than any other. I don’t think that he did this because he was focused on money, but rather because he was focused on the heart, and understood that the ways people think, feel, and act financially show us something about what is going on in their hearts (Mt. 6:21). Look at how you handle money and you’re looking at some of the desires of your heart being expressed.

How do you hope your book will influence your readers?

Tommy Brown: My hope is that readers will realize that money doesn’t have to be a shameful or stressful topic. This book helps diffuse a lot of that tension because it’s one that anybody—rich or poor—can pick up and better understand their relationship to finances. It’s of particular importance for engaged and married couples because it positions them to understand not only their own money type, but also their loved one’s money type. When this happens, they’ll stand a far greater chance of being on the same page with money, and can grow together toward shared financial goals with a greater sense of unity. Money types can lead to money fights, or they can lead to a relationship with money that is deeply meaningful, one that allows you to chase God’s dreams.

What if you don’t like your money type (or your spouse’s money type)?

Tommy Brown: The only reason a person would not like their money types is if they’ve been taught that it was bad, which is saying that God does poor work. Regarding our spouse’s money type, we have to begin with the fundamental belief that all seven are good and that all seven teach us something about God. You’re going to experience friction with other types. The first step is seeking to understand what’s motivating that person, and from there to take steps his or her way, while inviting them to do the same.

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?

Tommy Brown: Bible Gateway has been a constant companion for me over my years in ministry. In addition to the other resources it affords, I’m always able to find the passage I’m looking for, and in any translation I need. It’s my go-to resource for quick reference.

[Sign up for the Seven Money Types free 9-day email devotional and you’ll also receive the free 20-page sample of the book]

Bio: Tommy Brown is a writer and speaker, and develops strategies that support financial development. He and his wife Elizabeth live in Winston-Salem, NC, along with their children Seri and Seth. He served in leadership at two churches as an ordained minister from 2001-2014, leading congregations into financial wellbeing and a holistic approach to integrating faith and finances. Tommy has a BA in Pastoral Ministry and Masters degrees in Divinity and Management. His entrepreneurial endeavors over the years have extended into real estate development and church consulting on stewardship matters.

Thousands already have! Try your 30-Day free trial today!
Remove banner ads and expand your Bible reading experience using our valuable library of more than 40 top resources by becoming a member of Bible Gateway Plus. Try it free for 30 days!

Bible News Roundup – Week of March 19, 2017

[Return daily during the coming week for updates]

Support Bible Gateway—Browse the Bible Gateway Store
BibleGatewayStore.com

9 Archaeology Finds That Confirm the New Testament
Premier
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Biblical Archaeology Claim: Seal of Hezekiah Unearthed in Jerusalem
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Biblical Context for the Top Ten Biblical Archaeological Discoveries of 2015
See the Biblical Archaeology section in the Bible Gateway Store

Bible from 1881 Found in Trash, Returned to North Carolina Family
The News & Observer

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

How to Methodically Interpret the Bible: An Interview with Craig Blomberg

Craig BlombergThe Bible is God’s Word, yet it exists through human means. God’s commands appear to be absolute, yet some passages seem ambiguous. How can we understand the Scriptures correctly? That’s where hermeneutics comes in: the theory and methodology of interpreting the Bible.

Bible Gateway interviewed Craig Blomberg about the book he co-authored with William W. Klein and Robert L. Hubbard Jr., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation: 3rd Edition (Zondervan, 2017).

Buy your copy of Introduction to Biblical Interpretation in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

Why does the Bible need to be interpreted? Why can’t it simply be read at face-value?

Craig Blomberg: Some of it can be. But many things can mean very different things depending on the context, as is true of all acts of communication. My wife says, “Boy, it’s hot in here.” It sounds like it’s a statement but it’s actually a request for me to turn the heat down. Paul says, “Be angry but sin not,” but it’s not a command! It means “if you are angry, don’t sin.”

Poetry rarely can be read at face-value; it’s different from prose. Do you want to take “the trees of the field clap their hands” as literal? And what do we do with other literary forms or genres? Parables, proverbs, prophecy, psalms, and even things that don’t start with “p” are interpreted differently once we realize what they are.

What’s the challenge of “distance” when it comes to biblical interpretation?

Craig Blomberg: Distance involves both space and time. Our culture today is hardly the same as that in rural Kazakhstan. Now go not only half-way across the world but back in time by two millennia. If someone comes to you at midnight do you call out to your neighbor for three loaves of bread like in Jesus’ parable of the friend at midnight? If not, why did they back then? How do you tell what was culturally normal or what was unusual? Would it have been commonplace for people to be told, “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her?” If not, this would have been striking for Christians to do it and stand out as particularly important and emphatic.

What does it mean to speak of the canon of Scripture?

Craig Blomberg: It means you’re going to have a blast—just kidding! That kind of cannon has two n’s in it.

A canon was a measuring rod or stick. The canon of Scripture refers to the collection of books deemed by a particular religious group as uniquely authoritative, inspired, and trustworthy. Protestants and Catholics have historically disagreed on the canon of the Old Testament but agreed on the canon of the New Testament. Christians throughout history have at times been imprisoned and even martyred for keeping books of the Bible or whole Bibles when told to surrender them to political authorities. It then becomes pretty important to decide if you’re willing to suffer and die for certain books. If so, which ones?

How and why were the 66 books considered to be the ones to make up the Protestant Bible?

Craig Blomberg: The 39 books of the Protestant canon match those of the Hebrew Bible. This would have been the Bible of Jesus, the Jew, and of the 12 apostles, all Jewish. Jews in turn believed all these books were uniquely prophetic in the broad sense of that term as proclaiming God’s word.

The 27 books of the New Testament were all written by an apostle or a close associate of an apostle; they were all understood as completing the story of the Hebrew Bible and telling a coherent, consistent message of that fulfillment; and they were all widely found to be uniquely useful throughout all major portions of the early church. In other words, they weren’t sectarian literature emerging out of, and valued only by, one small group of Christians. These are the criteria of apostolicity, consistency, and catholicity.

How is biblical interpretation both a science and an art?

Craig Blomberg: It’s a science in that there are rules to follow and principles to apply. Don’t assume a parable narrates something that actually happened. Recognize that apocalyptic is filled with symbols. Expect a lot of metaphors in poetry. Don’t treat a proverb as an exception-less absolute.

It’s an art because the rules can’t be applied mechanically or unthinkingly. Some texts seem only partly poetic. Some images in apocalyptic are literal. Prose also can contain figures of speech. Sometimes we just don’t know enough about the historical or cultural context of a book or passage to be sure we can grasp the mind of the original author. Was an original passage intended to be timeless in its application or situation-specific? We gain a feel for certain kinds of writing and a certain author’s style and we intuit answers as well as deduce them. Sometimes we might be wrong.

What are the literary genres in which the books of the Bible are written and why is it important to keep these in mind when interpreting the Bible?

Craig Blomberg: In the New Testament alone there are Gospels, acts, epistles, and an apocalypse. Gospels contain literary forms like miracles, parables, pronouncements, proverbs, farewell discourses, annunciations, and so on. Epistles (letters) can be apologetic, commendatory, friendship-oriented, exhortational, diatribes, and more.

With every literary genre or form come some conventional expectations that the biblical authors either follow or deviate from. The latter stand out as more striking and emphatic. In 21st century news headlines, “Holy Family Crushes Sacred Heart,” may lead an immigrant into thinking they’re reading about some bizarre religious ritual. Americans familiar with the names of Catholic High Schools seeing the headline under “Sports” will have a very different take on things!

You write that “the essential qualification for a full understanding of the Bible is to know God and to believe that he is speaking through it.” Please explain.

Craig Blomberg: The key here is how we understand “understanding.” A careful, even-handed scholar who’s an agnostic can learn the ancient languages, cultures, the principles of human communication, and the practices of interpreting literature and tell you very clearly what a biblical writer was claiming. That kind of understanding does not depend on any form of faith.

But the Bible itself claims that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. “Full” understanding as Scripture “understands” it (!) means acting on the truths one reads and interprets. By definition it therefore means that we believe in the God that the Bible discloses and we believe what the Bible discloses about itself—that it is “God-breathed.”

How should a Christian respond to someone who doesn’t believe objective truth exists and therefore refuses to accept the Bible’s message as ultimate truth?

Craig Blomberg: Ask them if it’s ok to murder them? They might think that was objectively wrong. Or maybe say, “If blue skies eat jabberwocky, won’t beer become snails?” When they look at you as if you’ve gone mad, ask them if that wasn’t an appropriate response to their claim that there is no objective truth. After all, you interpreted their words as meaning that “jabberwocky actually eats blue skies so that snails become beer,” and you needed to refute them. If there’s no objective interpretation of their words, then why couldn’t that be what they meant? In other words, no one actually lives as if there is no objective truth. We all want to be understood and think it possible to be understood.

Sports is another good example. We want instant replays that can slow things down to determine if a receiver’s toe scraped a millimeter of chalk on the sidelines or not because we believe in objective truth. Either someone caught the ball inbounds or not and, if they did, especially if the person was on our team, we want that to be accurately reflected by the referees’ decision!

Of course, it’s one thing to say objective truth exists and it’s something quite different to say I have the ability to determine it in all situations. I don’t. Then all I can hope for is a close approximation. If I can’t get a very close approximation, I have to admit it. But that doesn’t mean I can’t ever get close approximations or that I can’t get close approximations often enough to be able to understand oral or written communication.

The Bible may be more than an ordinary human book but it’s not less, and the same principles therefore apply in interpreting it as in interpreting what my wife wants me to do. Only the stakes are even higher!

What is the goal of biblical interpretation?

Craig Blomberg: To approximate as closely as possible the original meaning of a biblical author through the text that he wrote to an original audience, and then to apply it to myself in ways that fit that meaning but take into consideration my contemporary context.

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?

Craig Blomberg: It’s probably the best online resource for consulting multiple Bible translations in multiple languages available in the world today, whether or not you ever read additional interviews like this one. If you do read them, then that’s just an added bonus.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Craig Blomberg: Never take biblical interpretation lightly. Never assume you’ve arrived or learned all that you can. Be a lifelong learner, but always apply what you’re learning to yourself in real-life situations. Accurate interpretation is meant to lead to obedience.


Bio: Craig L. Blomberg (PhD, Aberdeen) is distinguished professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary. He’s the author, co-author, or co-editor of numerous books, including Interpreting the Parables, Can We Still Believe the Bible?, and NIV Application Commentary: 1 Corinthians, and more than 130 articles in journals or multi-author works. A recurring topic of interest in his writings is the historical reliability of the Scriptures. Craig and his wife, Fran, have two daughters and reside in Centennial, Colorado.

Thousands already have! Try your 30-Day free trial today!
Remove banner ads and expand your Bible reading experience using our valuable library of more than 40 top resources by becoming a member of Bible Gateway Plus. Try it free for 30 days!

Our New Devotional Asks: How Did God Wire You to Handle Money?

Have you ever wondered why you are wired the way you are when it comes to money and finances? Do you ask yourself questions like: Why can’t I save? Why do I spend so much? Why am I so fearful of anything financially related?

Seven Money Types book coverWe’ve just launched a new one-week daily devotional that will help you better understand your relationship to money and finances. Over the course of one week, this devotional will help you to answer one important question: How did God wire you to handle money? It’s called Seven Money Types, and you can sign up by clicking here.

Tommy Brown, author of Seven Money Types (the book from which this devotional is drawn), has identified seven characters in the Bible who model the ways that God has wired people to relate to money and possessions. There’s Abraham (who models hospitality), Moses (endurance), David (leadership), and others. Finding out which “money type” best reflects you is what this devotional is all about!

Brown explains it further in this video:

Each money type brings with it both positive, God-honoring impulses and potential pitfalls to watch out for. Walking through each type will help you to better understand your own financial worries, instincts, and behavior—and will show you how to use those impulses to be a faithful steward of what God has given you.

So if you could stand to get a better handle on your spending, saving, and giving (and maybe you even made a New Year’s resolution to that effect?), this is a simple but practical way to do that! Seven Money Types is completely free and runs for one week starting when you sign up. Visit the Seven Money Types page to sign up and get started today! And if you’d like to learn more about the book this devotional is drawn from, you can visit the author’s website at TommyBrown.org, or pick up a copy of The Seven Money Types: Discover How God Wired You To Handle Money at the Bible Gateway Store.

Bible Prophecy and Current Events: An Interview with Charles Dyer and Mark Tobey

Charles DyerWhat does Bible prophecy foretell about the current news in the Middle East? Major conflicts seem to arise out of nowhere to threaten world stability. What’s the connection between the Bible and real-time events, and how does Scripture provide comfort in such a time?

Bible Gateway interviewed Charles Dyer and Mark Tobey about their book, Clash of Kingdoms: What the Bible Says about Russia, ISIS, Iran & the Coming World Conflict (Thomas Nelson, 2017).

Mark Tobey

What’s the meaning of your book’s title?

Charles Dyer: Our title draws on Jesus’ description of the period preceding his return as a time when “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:7). The end times will, in fact, be a “clash of kingdoms.”

Why do you begin your book with verses from Ephesians 5:15-16?

Mark Tobey: We start here because we’re convinced the ultimate clash of kingdoms is between powers we cannot see. And as Christians, we have a responsibility as well as the supernatural enablement to represent the kingdom of God visibly in the way we live, walk, and apply our faith in Christ—especially in “evil times.”

Buy your copy of Clash of Kingdoms in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

How can the Bible, which was written millennia ago by a variety of authors in diverse ancient cultures, have applicable things to say about the problems of 21st century readers?

Charles Dyer: The Bible can speak to today’s issues because God is the Bible’s ultimate author. Prophets were “men moved by the Holy Spirit [who] spoke from God” (1 Peter 1:21). And God said he would announce “the events that are going to take place” (Isaiah 44:7). From the fragmentation of Europe (Daniel 2:41–43), to the growing threat of Russia and Iran (Ezekiel 38:2–6), to the conflict over Israel and Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:2–3), to the ultimate spiritual conflict in the heavens, God provided a blueprint of how events will unfold leading up to the return of Jesus.

Why do you focus your writing on the Bible books Ezekiel and Daniel?

Charles Dyer: We actually focus on more than Ezekiel and Daniel in the book, but these two prophets describe the rise of two key coalitions connected with the end times—alliances that now appear to be coalescing in the Middle East and Europe.

How can knowing what the Bible says about the future help Christians in their daily lives?

Mark Tobey: First, prophecy assures us that God is in control. David in Psalm 11 asked, “When the foundations of the earth crumble, what shall the righteous do?” That’s a powerful question. He spends the remainder of his Psalm making clear that his confidence was in the Lord who “is in his holy Temple…and still rules from heaven” (Psalm 11:3-4). Second, prophecy compels us to live our lives with a certain urgency for the gospel and hope for our eternal destiny with God (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

What is the principle of God and kingdoms you write about?

Mark Tobey: The major theme of kings and kingdoms is a powerful hermeneutic for understanding the message of Scripture as a whole. God’s kingdom of righteousness is instituted at creation (even prior to creation), challenged by Satan almost immediately (the kingdom of evil), and remains in conflict with humanity’s embracing of rebellion straight through to the end of time (2 Corinthians 4:4). Ultimately, the kingdom of righteousness will be eternally established by Christ at his second coming. God reveals himself from Genesis to Revelation in the context of his relationship to earthly kings and their respective kingdoms, but ultimately reveals in Jesus the kingdom of heaven through the Incarnation (John 12:31; 18:36).

What does the Bible teach about the Antichrist?

Charles Dyer: He’s a real person. He will rise to control a military juggernaut centered in an ethnically divided Europe (Daniel 2:40–43; Revelation 13:2–4). He will make—then break—a seven-year treaty with Israel (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15–16). He will be empowered by Satan himself (Revelation 13:2). And he will be defeated by Jesus at his Second Coming (Revelation 19:11–20).

What do you mean “the Bible makes it clear that confrontation precedes the coronation”??

Mark Tobey: Before Jesus returns as king, the nations of the earth will clash violently, first against one another (Psalm 2) and then together against Israel. We explain in Clash of Kingdoms how prophecy points to all of that. And Jesus predicted this international upheaval prior to his return as a time when there will be “wars and rumors of wars” and a period when “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:6-17).

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?

Charles Dyer: I appreciate Bible Gateway’s wealth of resources. Besides using it to compare multiple translations of a passage, I also enjoy reading the Verse of the Day and exploring the practical tips on Scripture Engagement.

Mark Tobey: I agree with Charlie that Bible Gateway is an excellent resource for any serious Bible student and especially for busy pastors and lay ministry leaders.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Charles Dyer: God has not told us everything about the future. But he’s told us enough to help keep us on target spiritually. Revelation 1:3 is a good reminder of the importance of prophecy: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.”

Mark Tobey: Yes, we’re so serious about this message that we’ve made available both small group discussion questions and sermon starters to align as a series to pastors and churches. This is a perfect time and opportunity to engage God’s people with the Word of God and get them into the Scriptures. You can visit www.clashofkingdomsbook.com for more information and to download the material.


Bio: Charles Dyer, PhD, was provost and dean of education at Moody Bible Institute before becoming professor-at-large of Bible at Moody and host of The Land and the Book radio program. He serves as associate pastor of Grace Bible Church in Sun City, Arizona, where he lives with his wife, Kathy.

Mark Tobey is a pastor, writer, and freelance editor and is the co-author with Charles Dyer of The Isis Crisis and Strike the Dragon. He serves on staff at Insight for Living Ministries and lives with his wife, Tracy, and four children in the Dallas area.

Thousands already have! Try your 30-Day free trial today!
Remove banner ads and expand your Bible reading experience using our valuable library of more than 40 top resources by becoming a member of Bible Gateway Plus. Try it free for 30 days!

4 Ways Examining Multiple Views Will Transform Your Bible Study

John D. BarryThis guest Bible Gateway Blog post is by John D. Barry (@JohnDBarry), general editor of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible (Zondervan, 2017) (@NIVBible).


[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, NIV Faithlife Study Bible Encourages Readers to Stay Curious about God’s Word]

When it comes to Bible study, our tendency is to immediately get to the “right” answer. Yet for many passages, faithful Christians have diverging views. Here are four ways examining multiple viewpoints will transform your Bible study—making it richer than ever before.

Buy your copy of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

1. You Will Learn How to Think about the Bible

When we examine multiple views, we move beyond merely acquiring information; we learn how to think about that information. Critical thinking is a skill that’s honed through closely examining various views for their merits. And it’s a skill we should bring to our Bible study.

This is one of the principles we had in mind when we designed the NIV Faithlife Study Bible. We asked: How can we fairly represent multiple viewpoints, so that people can draw their own conclusions? This question has completely changed the way I read the Bible and explain it. I believe it will do the same for you.

2. You Will Claim Truth for Yourself

For far too long many of us have relied on others to study our Bibles. We get pre-packaged answers from our radio programs and books. But to really understand the Bible, we must directly wrestle with it.

Someone else cannot summit a mountain for me. I don’t know what Everest is like from watching a movie. I have to feel the cold in my bones. The same is true of Bible study. We cannot claim the Bible as our book without deeply engaging it. We cannot be a people of the Christian faith without wrestling with the difficulties of Scripture. Why not go deep and feed your curiosity?

Likewise, when we understand why people understand the Bible differently, we have an opportunity to decide for ourselves what we think. We can decide which hill we want to stand on—and claim it for our own, because we’ve done the worthwhile work to do so.

3. You Will See Difficulties and Appreciate Scripture for Them

The Bible is a difficult text to interpret. It’s from the ancient world and written in the context of the ancient world. And furthermore, it’s about the most complicated topic of all—the God who created everything. We cannot expect Bible study to be easy. But this is not a reason to turn away from the Bible.

We love complicated movies and novels, because they offer intrigue. The Bible is the same. When you engage with its difficulties—really trying to understand it—you appreciate it all the more. Bible study is far more rewarding.

4. You Will Better Understand Your Maker

God is infinite. Thus, our relationships with him have an infinite possibility for depth. Whenever we enter the depths of Scripture, we should aim to wrestle with the God who made us. This is how we go deeper in our faith.

I now intentionally wrestle with multiple viewpoints, because I want to be sure that I fully understand all that Scripture could mean. I then make an intentional effort to challenge my understanding of God through prayer. I’m not necessarily looking for the “right” answer, but instead the process of transformation. I’m looking for God to change me with his truth. I’m asking God how he wants to use my life to offer love and hope to others.

I’ve found this approach to Bible study to be refreshing. It’s made me more empathetic to other views. It’s helped me dialogue with those I may not necessarily agree with. And it’s helped me be fair to the viewpoints within the Christian tradition. But above all else, it’s drawn me closer to Jesus—and there’s nothing better than that.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, 6 Steps to Take Your Bible Study from Dull to Incredible]


John D. Barry is general editor of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible and the CEO of Jesus’ Economy, an innovative non-profit creating jobs and churches in the developing world. At JesusEconomy.org, people create jobs for the impoverished by shopping fair trade. They can also give directly to a cause they’re passionate about, such as creating jobs, planting churches, or meeting basic needs. 100% goes to the developing world. Anyone can join the movement at JesusEconomy.org.

The NIV Faithlife Study Bible (Zondervan, 2017) is filled with innovative graphics, rich commentary, and insights from multiple points of view—all designed to inform readers’ faith and to engage their curiosity, no matter where they are on their faith journey. To learn more, visit www.NIVFaithlifeStudyBible.com.

Bible News Roundup – Week of March 12, 2017

Read this week’s Bible Gateway Weekly Brief newsletter
Bible Gateway Weekly Brief
Newsletter signup

Support Bible Gateway—Browse the Bible Gateway Store
BibleGatewayStore.com

Evangelical Heritage Version: A New Bible Translation from Lutherans Coming October 2017
Cranach: The Blog of Veith
Read multiple Bible translations on Bible Gateway

Jesus Film Project® Study Confirms Billions Have Heard the Gospel Around the World
News Release
Read multiple Bible translations on Bible Gateway
Read the Gospel of Luke (GNT) on Bible Gateway (The Good News Translation (GNT) is used in the English “JESUS” film)
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Bible Translation Organizations

Timor-Leste Diocese Dedicates Year to the Bible
Union of Catholic Asian News

Deaf History Month and Conversations on Scripture Access for the Deaf
Mission Network News

Hand Writing Words of Entire Bible Helps 80-Year-Old Mississippi Man Gain Personal Insight
Sun Herald

Former Muslim Now a Bible Distributor in Kenya
Mission Network News
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, No God but One: Allah or Jesus?—An Interview with Nabeel Qureshi
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Interview: Nabeel Qureshi, author of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus
See the Understanding Islam section in the Bible Gateway Store

The World’s Fastest Growing Religion? Islam
CNN

The Bible Garden: A Spiritual Garden Containing Plants from the Bible
Canberra Times
The Jewish Voice: Ancient Grains Come Full Circle in Temple Sinai’s Biblical Garden

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

The Hum of Angels: An Interview with Scot McKnight

Scot McKnightMost people believe in angels. But it’s what we believe about them that matters. Have our preconceived notions about angels been shaped by sensationalized popular opinion rather than by true biblical representation? From the Garden of Eden to the book of Revelation, Scripture is filled with hundreds of references to these messengers of God.

Bible Gateway interviewed Scot McKnight (@scotmcknight) about his book, The Hum of Angels: Listening for the Messengers of God Around Us (WaterBrook, 2017).

Buy your copy of The Hum of Angels in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

Explain the meaning of the title, The Hum of Angels.

Scot McKnight: I was in a bird store one day, struck up a conversation with the owner, and I mentioned in passing while looking at a hummingbird feeder that I had one but couldn’t attract hummers. He asked where we live, I told him, and he immediately said, “They’re all around you. But you have to have an ear and eye for them.” So, we bought another one, put it up and waited. And before long we had hummers; and we developed an eye for their sudden and sharp moves and an ear for their humming.

The same with angels: they’re here and around us; perhaps all around us. But we have to have an ear for them and an eye for them, and that only comes when we have the courage and faith to open ourselves to a world inhabited by more than humans and animals. There are angels around us.

According to the Bible, what are angels’ purpose?

Scot McKnight: In The Hum of Angels I develop a theology of the mission of angels on the basis of the mission of God in this world. Here’s how it goes: God is love so all God does is loving. God’s love entails a covenant commitment on the part of with us, and that covenant commitment means a promise to be with us and for us, and God’s covenant is shaped toward our redemption.

Angels are spirits on mission, and that mission is God’s. So, we can say that God, out of his love, sends angels to aid us in our redemption. Angels are sent for our redemption, and that redemption leads us all the way into the heights of worship.

How do angels teach the Bible’s big ideas?

Scot McKnight: What’s surprising in the Bible about angels, and my book’s attempt to shackle our ideas about angels to the Bible, is how frequently they appear in major moments: think of angels and Abraham and Moses and Isaiah and Daniel and Jesus and Peter and Paul and John. They are there when big things happen: they’re at the birth of Jesus, the temptation of Jesus, the death of Jesus, the resurrection, and the Parousia.

So angels are involved in revealing the covenant, the law, the coming of Christ, the appearing of Christ, the redemptive work of Christ, and the second coming of Christ. Angels reveal by way of explaining what’s happening; that is, a child will be born and he will be called the Son of the Most High. Mary knows the identity and mission of her son because an angel told her.

Why are the first words out of angels’ mouths in the Bible many times, “fear not”?

Scot McKnight: When Kris and I were on sabbatical in Assisi, Italy we wandered daily through churches and we had fun with what we called the “chubby cherubs.” The only other kind of angel in the frescoes and paintings of those churches were wispy seraphs. I saw no angel that did anything other than brought me comfort or coaxed a smile from me.

The angels of the Bible terrify the humans to whom they visit; they startle and scare and even stun the humans. Why? Because in the Bible angels are colossal figures, fiery in light and, more often than not, overwhelming in their power. Angels, then, in the Bible are supernatural beings that humble us in their presence.

Should we be afraid of angels?

Scot McKnight: I’ve not seen an angel like that. But angels, inasmuch as they come from the Throne Room of the Thrice-holy God, usher us into the presence of God once removed and such encounters with God are more powerful and overwhelming than ordinary moments with God. So, yes, angels will frequently—even when they’re comforting us with good news—touch the awe of God’s eternal presence and drive us to our knees before our God of glory. But, “afraid” can be a tricky word. Yes, and no; awe is the better word. They do not intend to intimidate or scare, but their overwhelming glory and being will stun us into sudden contact with what is far beyond us.

Is there a hierarchy of angels?

Scot McKnight: Big issue. In The Hum of Angels I examine the history of this discussion and I join hands with Karl Barth on this one: most of this is a bucket of nonsense (my words, his substance).

In an era of neo-Platonic and quasi-gnostic beliefs in orders and strata in the heavenly places, some such theologians came up with a hierarchy—using some of the Bible’s own terms like principalities and authorities and then filled it in by assigning these biblical terms to various levels, which the Bible itself does not do. The man who did this and set the ball rolling was Pseudo-Dionysius. And then St Thomas Aquinas, in his classic Aristotelian mode of thinking, perfected the hierarchy into a science. In all due respect, I’m a Bible guy and I don’t see it in the Bible sufficiently to embrace the speculation. We’re better off without it.

Do people have a specific guardian angel?

Scot McKnight: Many serious Christians and theologians think so. There’s no doubt the Bible talks about angels guarding us. For instance, the wilderness wanderings of Israel were accompanied by an angel (Exodus 23:20) and clearly Jesus said something that sounds like a guardian angel: “For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). These kinds of texts in the Bible have led to a full development of guardian angels.

Some think we each have a guardian angel while others think we don’t have an assigned guardian angel, while yet others think God at times—but not always and not by assignment to each of us—sends an angel on a mission of guarding. The Bible’s evidence that each of us has a specific, assigned guardian angel is not as solid as some think, so I’m with those who think sometimes God sends guardian angels but that we don’t have a specific guardian angel. What then do I do with those who think they have one? Perhaps they do, but I don’t sense that I have one. Nor does my wife or anyone I’ve ever talked to. But perhaps they’re with us just beyond our hearing and sight. What matters more is that we know God loves us and seeks our redemption, at times through angels.

Can we (should we) talk to angels?

Scot McKnight: I’ve never spoken with an angel, though one time I felt the awesome weight and glory of God’s presence in an angel in my bedroom as I kneeled in prayer. I kept my eyes closed, good Baptist that I was at the time, so I never knew if it was an angel. (I now am reasonably confident it was.)

In the Bible angels speak and humans speak back to them. This is the case with Mary in Luke 1. The angel speaks, Mary questions, and it goes back and forth. Abraham speaks with angels. So I would contend the Bible has enough evidence of angels speaking and humans speaking that speaking with an angel today would be reasonable. I’ve heard enough stories and read such that confirm that Christians today do speak with angels.

Are angels worship leaders?

Scot McKnight: The ultimate end of redemption is that we worship God with our whole being and in the whole company of the redeemed. Angels emerge from the presence of God and worship of God, are sent on mission for our redemption, so it doesn’t surprise me to read in the Bible of angels leading us into the presence of God in worship. Psalm 29:1 exhorts the angels to worship God, and we read the same in Psalm 148:1-6. The angels worship Jesus, as we see at Luke 2:13. Revelation 5:6-12 describes the angels leading the redeemed in praise of God.

I’m convinced of this: angels are sent from the presence of God where they worship and they arrive in our presence with the ultimate aim of leading us into the presence of God to join them in worship.


Bio: Scot McKnight is the author of more than 50 books, including The Jesus Creed, and The Heaven Promise. A popular speaker at events such as Catalyst and Q Conference, Scot is professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. His blog, Jesus Creed, has 3 million page views annually. He and his wife, Kris, live in the Chicago suburbs.

Thousands already have! Try your 30-Day free trial today!
Remove banner ads and expand your Bible reading experience using our valuable library of more than 40 top resources by becoming a member of Bible Gateway Plus. Try it free for 30 days!